Saturday, 30 April 2011

Firing 3803; Another Day With A Superior Machine...

Hi all. Now, I don't use the term "best day ever" lightly but, this was pretty much the "best day ever" at Shackerstone; the only catch was the VERY early start. Arriving at 4:45am, myself and Carl wandered down to the shed where we found the lovely B1 and her older companion; GWR No3803, which I would be firing today. I fired my first engine at Shackerstone in May 2008 and it was 0-4-0VBT Cockerill "Yvonne"; a quaint little machine from abroad. Since then, I have 'developed' through many different machines from Peckett's to Panniers and on to Prairies and the lovely B1 of course. Most recently, I have been firing 1306 & 3803; as many of my regular readers will know. Hopefully, I will be soon at the end of my fireman training as, more often than not, I am now being left alone all day to fire; as I was today. Back to us at 4:45am this morning; we checked inside 3803's firebox and discovered some embers still burning from the warming fire the night before. Overnight, a leaf-spring had been replaced under the loco; keeping a very capable team working until gone 11pm! Well done to them. Carl lit up 3803, simply by placing coal on top of the still burning embers, and opening the dampers. The 38xx was warming up and she had steam by the time my crew; John and Dave; arrived. In the morning, at 9am, the 38 was booked for a 'Foot Ex' and Carl and Adrian crewed that outing, giving me a chance to wash, change and get some breakfast before joining the rest of my crew on the 38' at the start of the public day...
At 10:45am, Adrian and Carl handed the loco over to us three and I began making up the fire as we ran round onto the 4-coach train. Dave coupled up whilst John prepared for departure, and I fed the 27ft grate. Soon, 3803 was ready and we left on time with the 11:15am departure; the first public run of the day...
We were very worried that we would be cold on the 'open-back' loco today but, once again, we were in luck and the sun shone down on us. It was lovely weather, just right for 3803. I fired all 5 runs today, with success I believe; and of course the praise from my experienced crew at the end of the day was very reassuring. Thank you very much to Dave and John for a great day. 3803 was a joy and the 5 trips were 'just right'; 4 isn't enough and 6 is too many! Below, Driver Dave Johnson takes 3803 through Far Coton towards Market Bosworth with the 1:05pm to Shackerstone...
3803 chugs happily towards Far Coton with the Vacuum Pump ticking away in its usual enthusiastic manner...
GWR engines were often fitted with a flap, allowing more 'Top Air' (Secondary Air) to access the fire through the firehole doors. However, with the flap up, Secondary Air can still enter, but not too much. Too much cold air at once can affect the tube plate, tubes, stays and the foundation ring. Therefore, it is advisable not to let too much in at once. Below, the Flap is up but the doors partially shut too as the engine is chuffing well. However, the Top-Air creeping through the gap above the flap gets rid of some of the smoke, giving a light grey exhaust as is expected. Of course, too much air isn't good either as it cools the fire and weakens the combustion. The correct balance means complete combustion and the best results from the fire in the box...
3803 steamed and ran very well all day, performing her duties with ease; well, after all, 4 coaches is child's play for an engine designed to pull freight trains as heavy as 2000 tons! My favourite part of the engine is probably her huge size; particularly the cab. I've been on many engines where there is room to move about in the cab, so it's nice to be on the 38' as 3 people really isn't confined at all; you could probably throw a party on there! Lovely machine. The Leicestershire Countryside was also lovely today; really scenic, especially when viewed from the lovely Great Western. Below, 3803 roars away from Market Bosworth tender first; if you look closely you can see me in the cab (C = D.Hanks)...

"The calm after the storm"; Market Bosworth Station rests in the quiet countryside as 3803 roars through Far Coton for Shenton (C = D.Hanks)...
One problem we had today was the coal. In hot weather, especially when running tender first on a low-back engine like 3803; you need to keep the coal damp. This keeps the dust level low, meaning that you get much less in your eyes when running backwards! The coal is washed using the slacking hose; a rubber pipe connected to a valve which in turn connects to the live steam injector feed. When the injector is running, the valve can be opened to release pressurised water immediately, allowing you to 'wash' the coal. (For the jokers out there, no matter how much you wash it it won't come clean; but it does help the dust problem!!). Myself, John and Dave had a lovely day on the engine, with me firing all day and the other two taking it in turns on the regulator. I had a lovely time; 3803 is by far the best engine I've ever fired; closely seconded by 5542 the Small Prairie. By 5:45pm, we had 3803 back inside the shed and disposed. I raked the well fire, or what was left of it at least. Other than a little bit of clinker under the firehole door, no problems were discovered and 3803 was given a clean inspection report by the Driver(s). We then retired to "Jessie" for a restful drink and a chat before leaving. What a fantastic day. Thanks to John & Dave, and Carl & Adrian, for a great day out. Also thanks to D.Hanks for providing the two pics above and the opening image too; thanks Dave! And, finally, thank you for reading! Keep it up please! :). Tomorrow?: I'm driving 7.25" at the GEC in Coventry. Goodnight All, Sam...

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Best Great Western; "The North Western"...

Hi all. Today, in order to escape the family for a short while as they enjoyed in the fabulous Royal Wedding, the 5" gauge railway at Coventry Model Engineering Society was pressed into service to provide some welcome entertainment. The 'RPMR', as it is known, was open to members today so that engines could be given a run; wether they were club-owned or privately so. I must admit, the turnout was better than any I have seen in some years. I counted at least 12 locomotives touching down on the track, from the smallest of 3.5" tank engines to the biggest of 5" gauge electrics and tendered steamers. The action at the steaming bays was non-stop, right from the 10am start time, and it continued after we left! Below, 4 engines wait on the steaming bay, with a marshalled train waiting on the run-up-rail nearby...
Amongst many other engines, we had two 3.5" loco's present; a Class 1F 'Molly' and a 'Princess Marina'; owned by Eddie Jones; which is a Stanier Mogul 2-6-0. From the 5" range we had a; 'Butch', 'Pansy', two LNWR Precursors (see later), a Bagnall, Class 37, a Dock Shunter, a 'Sarah Siddons', an RC 0-4-0 electric and a RoR 'Hercules'. The stalwart 'Butch', owned by Mr Farr, which always runs like a well-oiled sewing machine, can be seen getting up a head of steam below...
'Pansy' (Pannier Tank) "Victoria", wearing her lovely GWR Green livery, experienced a few problems early on but seemed to be running fine after some minor attention. 5717 on the bay...
Now, some say; tongue in cheek; that there is "Only one Great Western, and thats the North Western". Well, I can truly say hand on heart that I do like the Great Western engines; I really do. But, the fact remains, that pre-grouping designs, like those of LNWR, were arguably way ahead of their time. LNWR engines were indeed very big for their era, usually baring huge wheels with plenty of ability for speed. After all, fast journey times from London to the North were required and, in these days of still-rather primitive lubrication, the bigger the wheel meant the better the running; surely! The LNWR developed the 'Precursor' Class as a fast passenger 4-4-0, keeping a tender behind for better running on longer journeys which required more capacity. However, the design was so successful that the LMS, after the amalgimation, built a Tank Engine version. Today, the 'newest' engine in CMES was enjoying her first ever steam outing...
This beautiful LNWR Precursor Tank, built by Mr M Sweatman, was a pleasure to see and ran beautifully. Check out that cab detail...
With the Tank in the background, the RC 0-4-0 (+ owner) is readied for running...
The 'mad' brother even managed to bag a drive; on the club's 37 electric...
Of course, I had a drive on the 37 too but, though it echoes usefulness, it isn't anywhere near as interesting as the steamer. Luckily, Colin offered me a drive on his fabulous engine, which is incidently the tendered version of the Precursor. I've driven this engine many times before and its always a joy. You never have trouble with steam, or with water, and the bark is fantastic. Never a problem on LNWR?! I must admit, I do really like this one...
Just two quick clips below of me driving the tendered Precursor...

Some Royalists, ay?...
All in all, a fantastic steam up at CMES and well done to the guy above (Mr Wilson) for organising it; a great morning. Now its time for home; we have a party to be at by 13:00! (And to see the newly weds on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at 13:30 of course!). Thank you for reading everyone. Whats coming up tomorrow; a 5am start at Shackerstone on GWR No3803...(yawns begin). Good Day all...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

"The Midday Freight"...

Hello all. Today, whilst writing an essay for work, I decided that I could do so by watching a train pass by on my 00 gauge Garden Railway. Black 5 No45156 "Ayrshire Yeomanry" was hauling a heavy Midday Freight Train of over 20 assorted wagons. Below, the Class 5 climbs away from Grantham towards Sutherland, crossing the rockery on the 90-degree, climbing route...
Just a very short one today folks, and now a 2-day or so 'train free' break until Friday. For those interesting in finding out more about the Garden Railway, why not search 'Sutherland Steam Railway' in the blog's own Search Box or even on Youtube? Even better, why not email me or comment on this post? I'm always happy to answer any questions readers may have. Thank you everyone. Sam.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Monday with A Certain B1...

Hi everyone. Well, after a great day on the B1 No1306 "Mayflower" at Shackerstone yesterday, I was rostered on her again today. Arriving at Shack at 5:45am again today, I wandered down the quiet driveway where I found the Railway Cat waiting for her morning feed. She walked with me down to the Signing On room and then on towards the shed where I opened up and then fed her. I then opened the main door and checked around 1306 before carrying out a few little jobs. At 6:30am, the rest of the team turned up, and we got 1306 outside. I broke up some wood and we all passed it up onto the footplate. Usually, 1306 uses 2 pallet's worth of wood when lighting up. Once lit, we all set to cleaning the engine again; as we did so yesterday. Today we worked even quicker and the loco was shining and ready to go off shed by 9:10am; a further 20 minutes earlier than yesterday! I think this is the earliest we've ever gone off shed for an 11:15 train! With the B1 ready, we took her off shed and waited in Platform 1 with her. In the meantime, we all got changed and did various little jobs like tidying up. With so much spare time once again, there was time to take a few more images! The gleaming cab side on 1306...
"Mayflower" in Platform 1, the shining boiler barrel always amazes me...
"Morning at Shackerstone": 1306 rests in Platform 1 as the sun rises over the trees...
During her recent overhaul, 1306 had all of her wheels, including her bogie, turned. As well as this, her rear driving wheels have been fitted with small lubricators. These small graphite cartridges are fitted into a spring-loaded casing and then the tip of the cartridge is pressed against the inside of the wheel flange. The graphite paste lubricates the flange and aids going around corners. The other B1 was fitted with these when she went up onto the Fort William - Mallaig line which has very tight curve for an engine with such big wheels. The Drivers-side graphite lubricator is spotted below...
Up in the cab, "Mayflower" was reading around 200psi, more than enough to pull a train (full pressure is 225psi). However, with no work for another 90 minutes yet, I continued taking pictures. Below, the Drivers controls. You can just see the regulator poking in from the right-hand side with the braking and reverser controls visible in the centre...
1306 with her equally gleaming tender at Shackerstone...
"The Road Ahead"...shame we can't go down to Coalville or Ashby!...
"The blazing inferno": 1306's fire sits rather quiet as we await departure time at Shackerstone; note the traditional Great Northern-type Flap firehole door...
"The wheels of time"...
Well, at about 10:30am we decided to get "Mayflower" onto the train and couple up and water up too. After these jobs were complete, we waited another 30 minutes before receiving the 'Right Away'; on time; with the 11:15 train. 1306 strolled through the beautiful Leicestershire countryside as the morning sun shone. At Market Bosworth, we picked up my family before taking them to Shenton, and then back to Shackerstone. There, my girlfriends family also joined the train, along with my family; all of which returned to Shenton on the 12:30 train. Before the 12:30 though, we had to add an extra coach to the train, making a 5-coach set; as reports from Shenton indicated a crowd. As expected, the day got busier and busier and seemed very successful with many people using the trains. Many passengers also commented on the shiney nature of the beautiful B1. Well, after all, she probably is the cleanest operational engine in preservation, with Pannier No9466 not far behind! After our 5 round trips, we were ready for home so we disposed "Mayflower" and locked her away in the shed. 3803 is out next weekend whilst 1306 takes a well earned break. The B1 will be next out during our 'Models Weekend' at the end of May. Why not come and see her then? Thank you all. Now, unfortunately, after two 4:30am starts, I need some sleep! Goodnight all...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday With Beautiful "Mayflower"...

Hi everyone. Well, what a day. Today, on Easter Sunday, I was reunited with the beautiful LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower". The loco, having only returned from Birmingham on Wednesday; following a bottom-end overhaul; looked fabulous when I arrived at Shackerstone Shed at 5:45am. Unlocking the shed door, I found the lovely LNER lady simmering away inside, still with 40psi 'on the clock' from yesterday. After feeding the Railway Cat, myself and James prepared ourselves for some cleaning. Just then, the rest of the team; Steve and Neil; arrived. First, myself, James and Steve fetched and broke up some wood whilst Neil cleared the fire grate. Neil then shunted the loco outside before we piled the wood onto the footplate and Steve lit the fire. Once burning nicely, we all set to cleaning the engine. Even though she ran yesterday and during Friday's 'proving runs', 1306 wasn't that dirty but, nonetheless, alot more cleaning doesn't go a miss! With our great team working non-stop, we had the loco ready for action by 9:30am; 1 hour and 45 minutes BEFORE the first departure! This is unheard of really; we could have stayed in bed for another hour! Anyway, with 1306 ready, myself, Neil and Steve got changed before sitting with the engine and a few of her other helpers. Neil then took her around and onto the front of the waiting 4-coach train. We soon coupled her up and added a little more water to the tender before awaiting departure quietly. Below, 1306 is ready to go "off shed" at 9:25am, notice that she is wearing a Disk rather than a Lamp today...
With so much time spare, there were a few moments to grab a few shots; unfortunately only on my phone as I didn't take my camera! The lovely Fireman's-side nameplate...
"Welcome Home"; 1306 prepares to depart Shackerstone with the first train of the day; the 11:15am...
The more observant of you will notice that 1306 is now Shackerstone-facing again. This, as well as being a nice change, allows the chimney to be poked out of the shed on rainy days, allowing the rest of the engine to be cleaned in a smoke-free environment; thus not allowing soot to stick to the paintwork in the wet conditions. Some may remember that 1306 was north-facing before her visits to the North Norfolk and Llangollen railways back in 2009, when she returned to Shackerstone south-facing. I must admit, she rides so much better facing this way, and the picture locations are much better too. Our first two trips of the day were fantastic and it was a pleasure to travel on 1306 again; particularly in the lovely morning light. At least it wasn't as hot as yesterday; thank goodness! Below, 1306 prepares to depart Shenton on the 1:05pm for Shackerstone, wearing two Disks...
"Wow"; 1306 awaits departure at Shenton...
On the third trip, half of my family (8 in total) joined us on the return run to Shackerstone; the 2:20pm. Mum even joined us on the footplate after an invite by Neil; thanks for that Neil! We had a good run back to Shackerstone with mum riding in the Fireman's seat. I think she enjoyed it; though I think she was in fact worried about catching fire! I do forget how unusual steamers are in terms of the heat when viewed by a 'footplate newby' as it were! Anyway, we managed to get mum to Shackerstone without catching light so a successful trip. The family then took a look around the station whilst we took 1306 around the train ready for the 3pm trip to Shenton, which the family also rode on, mum this time taking the 'safety' of the cushions! I really appreciate Neil giving mum a ride; now she might understand what I mean when I say "its pretty hot on there"! After dropping the family off, we returned to Shack before running round again and taking coal and water. We then left on the 4:15pm with a little bit of time to make up. Below, "Mayflower" roars away from Hedley's with black smoke poaring from the 'Western Wedge' blazing in the firebox!...
After a quick run-round at Shenton, we made it back to Shack 'right on time'. Now, you can't tell me thats not good time-catching! Earlier on, before the last trip, "Mayflower" is coaled at Shackerstone, on the loading ramp. This drew quite a big public crowd, mainly because seeing 1306 at 'floor level' gives an insight into her massive size, particularly her wheels. After all, when viewed from the platform she looks half the size! (C = D.Hanks)...
Well, after our last trip, we took "Mayflower" to bed and disposed. We then locked up the shed for the night, with 1306 still simmering away quietly to herself. After a chat and a cooling drink with the others, I left Shack at 6:30pm (12 hours, 45 minutes after I arrived!). When I got home, I could hardly open my eyes; need an early night before tomorrow...when I'm on 1306 again!! Thanks all. Goodnight...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Far Too HOT...

Hi all. Well, this afternoon was FAR TOO HOT! After spotting "Britannia" on the main line through Banbury this lunchtime, I headed back to CMES at Ryton Pools Country Park. It was a normal working afternoon and various jobs were taking place. I myself aided Eddie, Colin and Reg in putting out many 'Fire Buckets' in preparation for tomorrow and Monday's running. We will be using a steam engine; "Jodie" the 0-4-0 is rostered in fact; as well as the electric Class 37 and therefore, due to the very hot weather, 'Fire Buckets' are very necessary. For haulage, we used both the 37' and the Bo-Bo Petrol Hydraulic; after all, water is heavy! As well as our little job, Emma and Roy were working on the steaming bays whilst Peter, Jim, John etc were busy working on the passenger coaches. Derek, Dave and Pete were also about, doing various tasks. Eric and Gary meanwhile were working on some warped bridge flooring. If I've missed anybody then I'm very sorry! After our jobs, and a few others, we all had a cuppa' before leaving. Thanks all. I may pop up to CMES next Friday for the morning steam up and then of course for my crew turn on May 8th. Evening all...

Rule "Britannia"!...

Hi everybody. Just a short one here. In the hot morning light, I headed along the A423 'Oxford Road' in the Saxo. I was hoping to find an ample location from which to film or photograph 70000 "Britannia" as she tore through on a main line excursion northwards. The loco was due to stop at Leamington, and Warwick, bound for Stratford. However, the closest location to us, as I saw it, was 'Fosse Road', where the Network Rail line crosses the Fosseway just outside Harbury. However, this isn't great; at all; so I looked at Leam station. But, allas, parking in the town on a Saturday is always a nightmare; especially with weather like this. So, I had to look further south. There were some bridges but, many of these didn't offer good views, and they were all straight track areas so a frontal image was the only choice. Therefore, Banbury Station, right in the heart of the town, was the only choice. So, I drove on. Arriving in Banbury only 5 minutes before 70000's 12:03pm passing time, I quickly parked the car in a '30-minute stay' zone and literally ran up to the station bridge. Unfortunately, the light was bad; far too bright with sunlight; and the location wasn't great either. But, with no time to find another place and smoke on the horizon; this was it. "Britannia" roared around the bend and through the platform with a heavy train running north. She sounded great, but then a Fire Engine; sirens blaring; came up behind! Oh well, at least I've seen her; running that is; last time I saw her was at Crewe, as just a boiler. In fact, below, we see Pete Waterman chatting about the importance of the Brit's £750K repairs...
Riddles' famous Britannia Class was led by the pioneer loco; 70000 "Britannia". They were a powerful (Class 7) express passenger engine, and the first of the BR Standard's. In total, 55 Brit's were built, two of which were preserved; "Britannia" and 70013 "Oliver Cromwell"; also a main line certified loco and based at the GCR; an NRM engine. "Britannia" herself was built in 1951 and only worked for 15 years before being withdrawn in May 1966; a terrible waste in my eyes. A bit of a trivia about 70000: for some years, she carried a white cab roof to commemorate that she hauled King George VI's funeral train in 1952. When withdrawn, it was hoped that "Britannia" would become an NRM loco due to her significance. However, it was not be as the museum preferred sister "Oliver Cromwell" due to the previous being a 'prototype design'. Therefore, 70000 was bought by a society and later sold to Pete Waterman. Waterman later got rid of the engine and sold her to Jeremy Hosking; a man who owns many other big name engines such as "Nunney Castle", "Braunton", "Royal Scot" and "Bittern" (plus more!). "Britannia" has now of course returned to main line work (in striking BR Black) and is proving very popular following the completion of overhaul in Autumn last year. My short video clip from today is spotted below...

Well everyone, following the spotting of "Britannia", I returned to Coventry via the M40, on route to CMES at Ryton-on-Dunsmore. I hope you enjoyed this short post. Thanks folks. Good Day...

Friday, 22 April 2011

Sutherland's Spring In Steam...

Hi everyone. Firstly, I'm sorry that the Garden Railway may become a bit of a 'blog regular' with the recent fantastic weather but, hey, that's what I've been doing! Today, with the particularly beautiful spring weather, I couldn't resist getting the trains out again for another few runs. With the track checked and all of the buildings laid out, the locomotive's were prepared and readied for their running. The first train ran at 12:45pm and the last ran at just gone 5pm. It was a lovely few hours in the garden with alot of 00 gauge action. I've just included a few pictures for your enjoyment, I hope you find them interesting. The trains which ran today were compiled of both short and longer freight trains as well as various passenger outings. Passenger rakes included GWR, LNER and of course BR, running alongside our LMS stock. First picture: Hornby Class 0F "Smokey Joe", one of the most famous of the Hornby range, hauls a long freight along the line through Grantham. The open back cab would be nice on a day like today no doubt!...
As well as our own stock, the railway also hosted a visitor today; LNER A4 Pacific "Mallard". This Tender-driven Hornby model is owned by a family member, and found its way onto my railway after some careful negotiations! I do have my own "Mallard" model, except mine is in LNER Gartar Blue, whereas the visitor wears BR Blue with no skirts...
Not the usual A4 task but, hey, the job needed doing! The A4 blasts up Ashford Bank on the steep incline towards the Turntable Junction. The loco is hauling a lengthy freight train made up of various private-owner wagons. The workmen are still at work on the Junction area following a recent drainage problem...
Up at Sutherland, the sun was warming up the platform nicely. Meanwhile, trains were in regular action, with stopping passenger trains picking up and setting down passengers at leisure. In between the passenger runs, the freight train operations were nothing short of intensive. Austerity No68075 barks up the Sutherland Bank with another freight for Ashford Jnc...
Sutherland-regular; GWR 0-6-2 56xx; No6600 strides through Ashford Jnc, under the gantry, with the GWR Rake, which also included the Pullman 'Devon Belle' Observation Car...

A scene not spotted before at Sutherland; an LNER A4 wearing BR Blue, descends into the platform with our 4-car LNER Teak Rake. The spotters were all out for this one...
Another unspotted scene; well, for some time at least; my LNER B12 4-6-0 No8578. This delightful Hornby 4-6-0 was one of the railway's pioneer loco's. She hauled the very first passenger train on June 1st 2005, when the line was only a short oval. Since then, more and more loco's have joined the fleet and so, unfortunately, the B12 has been given less and less work over the years. However, today, 2 years or so since she last turned a wheel, I decided to give her a trip out. Strong as ever, she ran perfectly. So, who knows, we may see more of her in the future! The loco, wearing the name "Prince Palatine", climbs into Ashford with a slow, long freight...
Later on, the trademark shot is seen, outside the "Dew Drop Inn" at Sutherland. "Prince Palatine" prepares to undertake her first passenger train in nearly 2 years...Down at Ashford, the highlight of the day; two A4's together (unfortunately both "Mallard"!)...Mind you, the above images do show the differences between the 'BR A4' and the original A4. Which is better? In my opinion, both have their own right. "Sir Nigel Gresley" has always looked fantastic as the BR Blue version. However, for me, though she even wore BR Green, "Mallard"s colour should always be Gartar Blue; to remind us of the day when she travelled at 126mph and became the 'Fastest Steam Locomotive in the World'. Anyhow, as the day wore on, we even needed to move the loco's back towards the shed so that they could be collected. One such movement is seen below. What an unusual combination, as Pannier No5775 is piloted by Battle of Britain Pacific "Winston Churchill"!...
Below, you will see two short video clips which I have included for your interest; 'just to give an idea' as it were. Firstly, the BR Blue "Mallard" makes an appearance on the Ashford straight. Secondly, the GWR 0-6-2 chugs through Sutherland on the Great Western rake...
video video
Thank you all for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this rather mundane post. We had a lovely afternoon today in the garden watching the trains go by. The family, as always, seemed to enjoy it very much. Mind you, we did have the weather! Evening All...